From Luang Prabang we took a slow boat up the Mekong river, and then made a turn up the Nam Ou river. Before leaving Luang Prabang, we got a bag full of sandwiches and an early morning piece of roast chicken. Our only regret was not getting more of the excellent roast chicken for our river journey. We spent a few hours on the boat to get to Nong Khiaw, although you can get there cheaper and quicker by bus, we were eager to do some river cruising. We spent a few nice days here before heading further up the Nam Ou to the popular stop of Muang Ngoi Neua.
The trip was pleasant with nice scenery and Nong Khiaw is a mellow little town. A small highway road passes through the town, and there are a good amount of tourists along with nice guesthouses overlooking the river. There is a great Indian food place in this random Lao town, and we enjoyed eating the really cheap, yet totally unexpected, Indian food. We had a nice bungalow with a view of the river and a nice porch with hammocks for reading and relaxing. We had a great time relaxing in a rural Laos town that gave us the chance to really slow down and enjoy “Lao time.” Our bungalow was made out of bamboo, and although we had a rodent rustling around in our bags at night, the view off our deck could not be beat, especially since we paid a total of about $6 per night. Of course, this involves a rustic squat toilet and container of water (called a mandy) for scooping water to flush with, but we are well accustomed to this by now.
We rented mountain bikes and rode out into the countryside. The villages here are simple bamboo homes, with people of all ages industriously splitting bamboo poles into all sorts of things. Even small children are often seen wielding these huge metal knives, splitting, chopping and cutting the bamboo, which they use for everything. Pigs, chickens, goats, cats, dogs, water buffalo and cows all wander around the packed earth beneath all the homes in the villages. These people are sustenance farmers and farm rice in nearby areas, gather wood by hand, and make most of their homes from bamboo. After a few leisurely days passed by pleasantly, we boarded a boat for a short trip upriver to the popular backpacker destination of Muang Ngoi Neua.
***click to enlarge***